#MABLE: Author Interview with Kae Longnaker

You’re all invited to join in the fun of the Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (#MABLE) organised by my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing. The books in the event are hugely discounted, so it’s a great opportunity to try some new and exciting fiction. It began on 17th September and runs to 31st October. And you can sign up to join in the fun here.

I’m posting interviews with the authors here during the event. This is with Kae Longnaker:

Kelsey “Kae” Longnaker is an avid writer of fantasy content who thinks it’s funny that her first published work is actually science fiction. When not busy with the latest wild round of world-building, she is a school librarian, dedicated gamer, and tabletop RPG connoisseur. She lives with her ever-patient parents and goblin of a cat Pooka in the American state of Virginia.

  • Did some specific event trigger the creation of As Long as We Remember or, alternatively, was this a project you’d been considering for some time?

I did spend a few weeks planning things out, but I had no idea that it would turn into an entire novel. I’d been playing Starbound since mid-beta, and wanted to make a Let’s Play to celebrate it hitting final release. But my poor laptop was a seven year old Windows Vista and could barely handle running the game, let alone a recording software. So I made a written version instead, turning it into a narrative as I went to make it more interesting. Ten months later, I had 150,000 words and a wildly different story arc than I’d expected.

  • Most works of fiction have themes either at their heart or subtly roving beneath the surface for the more analytical reader; what were your themes here, and why do they matter to you?

It’s hard for me to put it into words, but my biggest themes are the idea of “being a better person” and “anyone can be a hero.” Nyota isn’t the Chosen One or anything. She was in the right place at the wrong time, and decided to do something about the wreck she found herself in. She absolutely couldn’t have done it alone; the power of our connections with others, that’s a major theme too. No one “bootstraps,” not really. But it’s important that, in another story or just a few years before As Long as We Remember begins, she would’ve been the villain. She can’t fix or change what’s been done, but there is no rule against her striving to be a better person every day.

  • Is As Long as We Remember your first created book or do you have others both published and/or awaiting publication?

It’s the first book I’ve finished entirely. I do have a wild assortment of poetry that I ought to collect into an anthology, and a few short stories here and there. My only other book-length project is still in the works: a fantasy piece about a world with four moons, a mage who’s trying to settle her place in court intrigue, and the fiend she accidentally sealed in her ring. But that’s going to be a good while coming, I think.

  • When did you start writing and what prompted you to choose words as your creative medium?

I’ve always been a writer. Mom says that even before I knew how to write, I would draw scribbles on a paper and “read” the story aloud, making up something new every time. I dream really vividly, and trying to capture the dreams to share with other people forced me into storytelling, when my hands were still too small and unpracticed to draw what I’d seen. I still remember a few of the oldest dreams, and many recent ones have inspired new characters and new stories since.

  • To what extent does genre guide your treatment of story/subject?

I really struggle to divide things into genre (ironic, since I’m a librarian), so I’d say not really. I’m aware of genre themes and tropes, and I do think about them sometimes as I work, but it’d be more fair to say that all genres influence my work at all times, rather than saying I’m writing in a specific genre.

  • How do you feel about ‘experimental’ literature? Have you ever employed an approach that might be seen as experimental?

Well, I did make a novel out of a written Let’s Play guide! Honestly I’m a fan of anything that bends or breaks conventional rules, because that’s how cool new ideas take hold. My experience is sadly rather narrow still, but I look forward to exploring it more down the line.

  • Do you plot, or are you a ‘pantster’ writing without a definite plan, and why do you use this method of construction?

I have to plot or I find myself stalling, staring at a blank page for hours. But at the same time, the story often twists itself in wildly unexpected directions. I’d say I’m a gardener. I tilled the field, I set up a trellis, and I selected my seeds, but I don’t know what direction they’ll grow, and what might pollinate them to change the fruit they bear.

  • What, if any, input did you have in the design of the book cover, and is such collaboration important to you?

I provided a bunch of reference art for the cover artist to work with. I haven’t seen thumbnails or the final decision yet, but I have high hopes for them. It’s vitally important to me, because the cover first clues my audience in on the story I’ll be telling. Also, I tend to have vivid images of my characters in my head, and I can be a little picky about drawing them right.

  • English is a temperamental language; how important is it for an author to understand its rules?

It’s vitally important. Admittedly I’m biased, my undergrad degree was in English. And my writing doesn’t always follow strict English. But to paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes artist Bill Waterson, you have to know the rules thoroughly before you can break them. English is clunky, more like four languages in a trench-coat trying to buy movie tickets, or mugging other languages in back alleys and stealing their verb tenses. But there is still a music to it, and our words have such finesse. Happy is not joyous is not gleeful is not excited; each word has a different connotation, even if they all boil down to happiness. And that’s without even dabbling in the rhythm of the syllables, the sound of each word… I could go on for days, but there’s a reason I always tell new writers to try poetry first, even if they want to write prose. It will teach such a command and mastery of rhythm and meaning that you can learn nowhere else.

  • Finally, bearing in mind the wide choice of self-publishing platforms now available, what made you choose Fantastic Books Publishing as your route to the reading public?

Ha, I’m not selling my soul to Amazon that easily! Honestly, self-publishing is okay but marketing is hard, and the contracts with some of the platforms are downright predatory. Half the ones I looked at, I would be handing them the rights to my entire story if I published through them. Not just publishing rights, they’d own my work. Not a chance. Even disregarding the monetary losses (the writer makes a pittance in many of these too), my work is my life. Cliché  but true. Everything that makes me happy and me these days came from my novel and the road to it.

So, my best friend and I discussed options and did some research into publishers that had published game-based novels before. I had a few attempts and misses with American publishers; most weren’t willing to jump into such unfamiliar territory. Then my friend found FBP, and it went remarkably smoothly from there.

My review of As Long As We Remember
Reviews on Goodreads
Melodie’s Musings – A view from Melodie Trudeaux
Penny Ponders – A view from Penny Grubb

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